This conference on the cultural history of outer space, space travel and space exploration examines the manner in which Europeans imagined outer space over the course of the twentieth century. Unlike most of the existing historiography, it is less interested in the political, diplomatic and technological aspects of European space programs per se, than in the socio-cultural rationale behind the investment of enormous resources. How was outer space represented, communicated and perceived? In what way were changing conceptions in turn affected by the continuous and ongoing exploration of outer space? How did the idea of spaceflight develop into such a central element of the project of Western modernity? In what form did these images and conceptions of outer space, 'other worlds' and the entire cosmos impinge on religion, transcendental beliefs and competing versions of the future? And what was the cultural and societal impact of space exploration and space travel in Europe at large? Analyzing connections between science and fiction from a comparative European perspective, the conference will pay special attention to sites and situations where technologies and images have contributed to the omnipresence of fantasmatic thought.
Speakers include numerous distinguished experts such as Profs. Steven J. Dick (NASA), Debbora Battaglia (Mount Holyoke College), Pierre Lagrange (CNRS), Michael J. Neufeld (National Air and Space Museum), Claudia Schmoelders (Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin), James Schwoch (Northwestern University), Helmuth Trischler (Deutsches Museum) and many others. The conference will also feature a special screening of rare historical films compiled by director Juergen Ast (Berlin) and Space Place: Art in the Age of Orbitization, a curatorial work by Prof. Philip Pocock (FfG Pforzheim in cooperation with ZKM Karlsruhe).
Contact InformationFor further information please contact the conference convener:
Alexander C.T. Geppert
Freie Universität Berlin/Harvard University
geppert at fas.harvard.edu
Zentrum fuer interdisziplinaere Forschung